WH tries to ease tensions with Germany

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The White House said Thursday it was working "aggressively" to assuage concerns over U.S. surveillance programs after German chancellor Angela Merkel said they violated trust between the allies.

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“There is no question that the disclosures have — specifically the disclosures themselves and sometimes the context around them — have caused tensions in relations with a number of countries and we work very aggressively and have worked very aggressively through diplomatic channels to address concerns that countries have," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

The White House spokesman said that President Obama and Merkel had spoken about her concerns "on several occasions" and that the U.S. continued "to work on this through diplomatic channels."

"We have been engaged directly with the Germans on this issue," Carney said.

At a press conference on Thursday, Merkel said revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden had hit with "great force." Documents provided by Snowden indicated that the United States had monitored Merkel's personal cellphone.

"Is it right that our closest partners such as the United States and Britain gain access to all imaginable data, saying this is for their own security and the security of their partners?" Merkel said.

"Is it right to act this way because others in the world do the same?" she added before also touching on alleged British spying at international talks.

"Is it right if in the end this is not about averting terrorist threats but, for example, gaining an advantage over allies in negotiations, at G20 summits or UN sessions?

"Our answer can only be: No, this can't be right. Because it touches the very core of what cooperation between friendly and allied countries is about: trust."

The German leader added that "actions in which the ends justify the means, in which everything that is technically possible is done, violate trust, they sow distrust."

"The end result is not more security, but less."

Merkel's comments came ahead of a meeting Friday between Secretary of State John Kerry and top German officials in Berlin and Munich.

At a speech on American surveillance programs earlier this month, Obama announced that the U.S. was placing tighter restrictions on the surveillance of foreign heads of state. He had already personally assured Merkel her communications would no longer be monitored.